More than 1 000 students from the University of Limpopo (UL) were transported to the Union Building in Pretoria today (Friday) to join in the mass protest by students countrywide demanding a zero percentage increase in class fees for 2016 resulting in a national shutdown of universities.
Kgalema Mohuba, UL’s Executive Director of Marketing and Communications confirmed that 15 buses and several taxis were used to transport students to the Union Building. “I can confirm and want to applaud UL students for a peaceful protest since Monday. No violent actions were reported on campus, but I know that several students were dispersed elsewhere in Mankweng after aggressive behaviour,” he said.
According to him all were peaceful on campus since Monday and that all educational practices on campus were suspended until further notice. “There are currently no classes or exams at the university,” he said.
Police Spokesperson in Mankweng Matimba Maluleke confirmed that Police had to intervene late Wednesday afternoon to disperse protesting students off campus. “Students disrupted services and locked down a shopping centre in Zone 1. Allegation were made that they are planning to shut down Paledi Mall. Public Order Police members had to intervene and rubber bullets were fired at students,” Maluleke said.
He added that no arrests were made.
Meanwhile Provincial Police Spokesperson Ronel Otto confirmed the incidents and said situations at other universities in the province are also calm. “At the University of Venda it was reported that students are gathered at the gates where they sing and prevent anyone from entering the premises,” she said.
On Wednesday Police had to use stun grenades and smoke grenades to disband a more than 1 000 students protesting at the Parliamentary Building. Thus far protest actions were reported at the Wits University, University of Stellenbosch, Northwest University Potchefstroom and Mafikeng Campus, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State in Bloemfontein and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
In Stellenbosch a court order was reportedly obtained to remove students from an administration building while several buildings at other universities vandalised and entrances to premises barricaded.
In the meanwhile Congress of the People (Cope) Spokesperson Dennis Bloem in a press release said: “Fees must indeed fall. The budget process for 2016 must ensure that that is exactly what happens. Norway, Sweden and Germany are some of the many countries that offer free tertiary education. South Africa must join that growing list of countries immediately. Our national budget must centralise free higher education and work other expenditure around it. This will certainly require the reprioritisation of spending.”
According to Bloem, President Jacob Zuma must stop pretending that he has been concerned about the fees increase all along because the ruling party said nothing about it in its recent conference and he himself lifted no finger to avert it.
It was also learnt from a local school that the annual Super 12 Athletics Championships scheduled for tomorrow at the University of Limpopo has been cancelled due to safety risks.
Photo Caption: Students from universities across the country gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from early on Friday to continue their protest against proposed study fee increases. Photo taken form the internet.